What happens if you die without making a Will:

Making a Will is relatively straightforward and inexpensive. However, in spite of this, seven out of ten people in the UK who could and should make a Will die without one. This often causes delays, hardship and worry for those left behind, and costly legal bills can even result if there is confusion or disagreement.

Should you die without a Will or if your Will is deemed to be invalid (e.g. if it wasn’t completed or signed correctly), then you are said to have died intestate. This results in the laws of the land deciding how your estate is distributed, and the distribution of your estate is ultimately determined by your marital situation at the time of your death.

Charter Wills’ commitment to protecting our clients’ estates and providing a people-centred service means not only drawing up precise, tailored Wills, but also educating our clients: we keep you abreast of any relevant changes in the law and we also provide helpful information on how your estate will be handled according to varying circumstances, including the absence of a Will.

As such, we have prepared the following notes for guidance only. Please note that the laws relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in some aspects. If you have any questions on any of the information given below, please do not hesitate to contact us at Charter Wills.

Married with Children

(Under these rules legally separated couples are treated as still being married.)


  1. Your spouse gets:
    1. personal chattels (eg car, house contents, jewellery etc), plus
    2. the first 270,000 of your estate, plus
    3. the income on half of any surplus (only income, your spouse cannot touch the capital)
  2. Your children (excluding stepchildren) get:
    1. half of any excess over 270,000 outright, plus
    2. the other half of the excess when your spouse has also died


Married with No Children but with Parents and/or Brothers and Sisters


  1. Your spouse gets:
    1. personal chattels (eg car, house contents, jewellery etc), plus
    2. the first 450,000 of your estate, plus
    3. half of any excess over 450,000 outright
  2. Your parents or (if none alive) your brothers and sisters get the balance i.e. half of any excess over 450,000 outright


Married with No children and No Parents and No Brothers and Sisters

Your spouse gets everything


Single, Widowed or Divorced

(Legally separated couples are not included under this category.)

Everything goes to your children (if any), otherwise to your parents (if alive), otherwise to your brothers and sisters (or their children), otherwise your grandparents (if alive), otherwise your uncles and aunts (or their children), otherwise to the government.


Important Note

If you have a co-habiting partner, he/she will not be granted any part of your estate, regardless of how long you have been together.

The last thing anyone wants is for their loved ones to be faced with unpleasant legal challenges after they are gone, especially while grieving. Charter Wills is here to provide a comprehensive service that Will see to it that your estate is handled in keeping with your wishes, without any unnecessary difficulties for your family.

Please feel free to contact us to find out what Charter Wills can do for you. We would be pleased to offer any advice or information you may need.


Reason 1:

You can choose who will inherit your property, your money and your possessions

Reason 2:

You can appoint Guardians for young children

Reason 3:

You can even save tax after you die, to the benefit of your loved ones

Reason 4:

You can establish Trusts to protect young or less able beneficiaries

Reason 5:

You can plan for the care of family pets or leave money to charity

Reason 6:

You can protect the value of your home